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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says Bernie Sanders supporters won't turn to 'racist' Donald Trump

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says Bernie Sanders supporters won't turn to 'racist' Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in September aboard the USS Iowa in San Pedro. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti denounced Donald Trump as a bigoted demagogue and "con man" Tuesday morning as the presumed Republican presidential nominee prepares for his latest visit to Southern California.

During a conference call with reporters and Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Henry Vandermeir, Garcetti said Democrats "simply can't afford to give [Trump] a free pass" for his incendiary rhetoric targeting women and ethnic groups such as Latinos and Muslims.

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"What we cannot do with Donald Trump is normalize him as a candidate," Garcetti said. "He's a racist. He's a bigot. He's sexist. … He can't just turn into a normal candidate who says some kind of crazy things."

Such ritualized displays of disapproval have become a regular feature of local politics in blue states and cities since Trump all but locked down the GOP nomination earlier this month.

Although Orange County remains the Republican Party's most populous power base in California, it isn't exactly Trump country: A Trump appearance in Costa Mesa last month led to violent protests in which 17 people were arrested.

On Wednesday, Trump will make a campaign stop at the Anaheim Convention Center, followed by an evening fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of real estate investor Tom Barrack. Tickets to the dinner start at $25,000.

Once a political punchline, Trump's candidacy has grown increasingly worrisome for Democrats as Clinton remains bogged down in an effort to decisively push Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the nomination contest. Some recent national polls show Trump surpassing Clinton in the general election, with many Sanders supporters saying they would refuse to support Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

Garcetti — whose stylish decorative sense and fondness for digital services such as Instagram have led some observers to dub him a millennial-friendly "hipster mayor" — said he's confident that Sanders' enthusiastic young backers would come around to supporting the party's eventual nominee.

"Millennials are smart about their finances, and they see a kind of recklessness in Donald Trump," Garcetti said.

"I'm not concerned", he added. "Democrats will have one of the starkest choices they've ever had this November regardless of age, ethnicity or geography."

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